The first day of Electric Daisy Carnival is always a rush, as hundreds of thousands of giddy fans pour into the Las Vegas Motor Speedway eager to see what has changed from last year. To Insomniac’s credit, a lot has.
The entire festival felt upgraded, from the number of bathrooms to easy water stations, and, most impressively, the stage technology. This year’s Carnival has eight new stage designs, including a food and beverage hub called Carnival Square and the Funk House, a 360-degree structure built from recycled materials dedicated to playing old school funk, disco and soul music. Across the board, the financial investment was obvious. Whether it was new digital screens outfitting the Bass Pod, or a magnificent, high-tech pyramid design for Neon Garden, EDC again raised the bar for the over-the-top, experiential music festival. Here are 10 highlights from Day One.
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10:25 pm: 12th Planet experiences an unfortunate power blackout on the Bass Pod stage. To the credit of his dedicated fanbase, the crowd’s core remains invested and empathetic to what’s happening by sitting down and patiently waiting for the sound to resume. The LA dubstep veteran keeps the mood cheery by singing “if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands” while enthusiastic attendees obey.
11:19 pm: After 12th Planet finished strong and thanked his crowd for persevering through the blackout, SNAILS took the Bass Pod to a swell of cheers. “EDC are you fucking ready?!” the Montreal product hollers. The producer has dubbed his grotesque brand of synthesis “vomitstep” — and its signature squelching sound is on full display during his pummeling, low end laden set.
12 am: Flume, the young heart-throb DJ signed to Australia’s Future Classic label, took things slow at his Cosmic Meadow stage performance, opening with “Some Minds,” his new single featuring Andrew Wyatt from Miike Snow. Part of Flume’s appeal is that he can be a welcome respite in a sea of hard-hitting house and techno DJs, relying more on delicate synth builds and hip-hop drops than anything fist-pump worthy. And it must be noted that one of the best things about his EDC set were the stunning visuals, which called to mind Cashmere Cat’s backdrop at Coachella and blended slow-motion abstract photographs of what looked like inky charcoal or concrete. No neon, no strobes, no pyro necessary.
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12:35 am: Loco Dice guides the crowd through throbbing tech house builds and punchy bass lines while giant jellyfish appear hoisted by white-clad holders. The Desolat label boss mixes into a powerful broken beat bass drop and everyone reacts as the jellyfish bounce, bobble and bob between waving white lights. EDC is a constantly shifting feast for the senses.
2:11 am: Animated against the Kinetic Field’s overwhelming backdrop of waterfalls and swiftly swiveling strobes, Kaskade shares a nostalgic moment with his mass of fans before launching into new song “We Don’t Stop.” “I’ve seen a lot of clubs and festivals,” he said. “I’ve been around a long time and people said ‘this is just a fad, it’s not gonna last. It’s just something going on in Chicago. But then I moved to SF and we’re doing this too. No matter where I go in the world, we don’t stop. I wrote this one for you guys, because we’re still doing this.”
3:05 am: The Marquee Skydeck plays host to no shortage of absurd sights. Suited businessmen clutch sushi with chopsticks and make it rain single dollar bills on the plebeians passing below. Meanwhile, a sweat-soaked Martin Garrix enthralls his audience with a searing rework of “Animals,” a remix of ZHU’s hit “Faded” and his infectious pop single “Don’t Look Down.”
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2:15: Amsterdam trio Yellow Claw draw so many people to the Cosmic Meadow stage that fans were dancing out into the bleachers. But it makes sense. More than any other act at the festival, Yellow Claw epitomize current EDM-culture trends, dropping a raucous mix of hardstyle and trap music in front of minimalist black and white graphics that seemed plucked from a hip store in L.A.’s Fairfax neighborhood. Fortunately, the three producers have enough energy to inspire almost anyone to dive in, but they’d have even better luck if they stayed off the mic.
2:25: Moby doesn’t DJ nearly as often as the rest of the artists at Electric Daisy Carnival. In fact, he admits to avoiding gigs that draw him away from his home in Los Angeles. But when he does DJ, he spins aggressive, full-throttle house and techno that make you rethink everything you know about him. (His Friday set also had a heavy dose of acid house.) Interestingly, he was backed by digital visuals that displayed the name “DJ MOBY” in huge text rotating above his head. Given how many artists are averse to being called DJs in today’s EDM community, it felt like a cheeky choice of words, perhaps a poke to the scene to take itself a little less seriously. He took two photos on stage during the set and posted them on his website two hours later. He was already back at home in L.A.
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3:35 am: Especially in-the-know attendees probably surmised that the artist Louis B, booked to perform after Moby in Cosmic Meadow, was the French producer Brodinski, known for blending woozy Atlanta hip hop music with cutting techno. Unfortunately, foregoing his usual moniker meant he also forewent a lot of fans who emptied out after Moby to wander the grounds or head home. Those who left missed one of the most artful sets of the evening, which showcased his recent debut album, Brava, that was released in March on Parlophone/Warner Music.
4:30 am: After playing the festival’s massive main stage, Kaskade hopped on the Mayan Warrior Art Cart, a roving bus decorated to resemble a dragon, to deliver one of his notorious Redux Sets, which are a deeper, darker, sexier approach to electronic music. The set was largely unadvertised except for a tweet from Kaskade earlier in the week that read, “If a big crowd isn’t your bag, meet me at the Mayan Art Cart at 3:30 Sat AM for some #Redux.” Many fans worried that the later set wouldn’t happen; after his performance at Coachella drew one of the largest main stage crowds in the festival’s history, he was forced to cancel his surprise Redux set at the Do Lab stage because it couldn’t weather the crowds. But this time, the interest was just right. About 500 people wandered over to the roving cart and had their own intimate after party.